Pawpaw Variety Development: A History and Future Prospects

in HortTechnology

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a new crop in the early stages of domestication. Recently commercialization has become feasible with the availability of high quality varieties. The history of pawpaw varieties is divided into three periods: 1900-50, 1950-85, and 1985 to the present. The history before 1985 was concerned primarily with the discovery of superior selections from the wild but experienced a serious break in continuity around 1950. The third period has been characterized by greater developmental activity. Larger breeding programs have been pursued, regional variety trials initiated, a germplasm repository established, and a formal research program at Kentucky State University (KSU) instituted. Future breeding will likely rely on dedicated amateurs with the education and means to conduct a 20-year project involving the evaluation of hundreds of trees. For the foreseeable future, governments and universities will not engage in long-term pawpaw breeding.

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